It is interesting what we can do and what we can’t do during this Covid 19 emergency.
Our family can’t drive to Sydney for a special meal to celebrate my brother’s birthday this week, but we are having a 40 minute Zoom conversation with our four households – each week – bringing us closer than we have been in years! As a church we cannot at the present time hold services in our buildings, but we can still gather – virtually – as a local community – and with people from across the globe for worship and prayer and mutual encouragement!
This Friday is Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week and, looking at resources from around the world, I have come across some interesting responses to the Covid 19 emergency. In some countries church leaders are instructing churches to delay Easter i.e. that 12 April should be treated as a regular Sunday and that Easter should be held after the Covid 19 emergency is over. Yes, that will be a kind of resurrection for our church communities, for our community as a whole, but I would rather cling to the truth that the resurrection does not wait for the perfect time and place, for the ideal circumstances – Easter comes anyway! God comes anyway into our lives and our situations – however non-ideal, however broken.
But I am getting ahead of myself! This Sunday is Palm Sunday and, for us, it is also Communion Sunday. We are still able to enjoy communion with each other and with God, and so we will be continuing to celebrate communion.
What you need for communion on Sunday
- Please have some bread and cups of juice ready (for you and any other members of your household) before the service.
- It will help to set up your device – with the bread and juice nearby – before the service.
- And next week Cecelia would love to receive some photos for the church social media of our congregation – apart but still part of the Body of Christ!
And Palm Sunday is still a day when we – with other Christians around Australia – can call and act and pray for a just future. Common Grace have asked that even though we cannot join Palm Sunday marches as many in our church have done over many years, we continue to share the love and justice of God – online!
“Over the past few months,” they write, “Bushfires swept across the land, firefighters worked tirelessly to save lives and property with faith groups banding together to cook meals for those on the front line. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic … neighbours [have come] together to care for the vulnerable in their communities. We need to model this compassionate, inclusive response to crisis once more. We are called to love our neighbours – and particularly in the face of this pandemic, we’re reminded that our neighbours include those seeking safety on our shores…”
COVID 19 will have a drastic impact on this group of already disadvantaged people. Those on Bridging Visas have been excluded from the government’s supplementary payments and many will have lost their jobs over the last few weeks. Those in detention also face an increased risk of infection. Already a Serco guard in Brisbane, in a facility housing 1400 people, has contracted the virus. Safer community arrangements need to be found.
So, this weekend, we are being encouraged to join Common Grace in prayer and action online; on Facebook www.facebook.com/events/1305293892988994, by posting a prayer (the prayer below perhaps) to your social media or by contacting your local MP: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/priorities-covid-19/
Creator God, you are the giver of life.
Saviour Jesus, you have shown us what it is to love.
Guiding Spirit, you awaken us to justice.
Show us how to build a just future, where all people have equal opportunity to belong and to flourish in your vitality and love.
We ask for mercy for people in limbo on temporary visas, for safety for those seeking permanent protection, for reunion for families who are separated by borders, and for relief for those losing hope within our detention systems.
We pray for First Nations Peoples fighting for justice on their own Lands, for survivors of domestic violence and for creation groaning under climate disruption.
Help us to live out your inclusive love. Help us to live into your Kingdom where all people have equal opportunity to belong and flourish. Work through us, towards a just future. Amen.
‘Prayer for a Just Future’ by Common Grace’s Justice for People Seeking Asylum Team
May grace and the peace that surpasses understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.